DIG Excavation Pits

Tim the DIG Archaeologist characterHi there! My name’s Tim, the DIG Archaeologist, and I’m here to help you explore the world of archaeology!


Here at DIG we have 4 replica excavation pits for you to unearth. They are all based on real-life excavations in York that York Archaeological Trust have carried out over the past 30 years. When you visit us you will have the chance to unearth artefacts similar to those found by real archaeologists.

The first city: Roman York

AD 71 to AD410

Roman York - Tim the Archaeologist


The Roman 9th Legion (the army) arrived in York 71AD and built a fortress between the rivers Ouse and Foss.

Gradually a settlement of people began to grow around the fortress which became a  bustling city called Eboracum.It was a city of magnificent buildings including villas, barracks, temples, an amphitheatre as well as public bath houses – the Romans loved to keep clean!

Some of the remains of the Roman city can still be seen today, including the Multangular Tower in the Museum Gardens, which are the remains of the west corner of the fortress wall.


AD 866 to AD 1066

Tim dressed as a Viking

Those vicious Vikings attacked and conquered York in the year 866AD. After they arrived they changed the name of the city to Jorvik.

By 1066 and another invasion, this time the Normans from France, there were between 10,000 and 15,000 people living here. It must have been a pretty busy place, don’t you think?

The Vikings used their longship to sail across the seas and trade with people across Europe and beyond.

We know that Vikings made a lot of things in the city, as archaeologists found items and waste material linked to the production of goods. These finds helped us to identify the homes and workshops of blacksmiths, antler workers, wood workers & even leather workers to name a few. You can find out more about the Vikings at JORVIK Viking Centre.


AD 1066 to AD 1485

Tim dressed as a medieval monk

By the time of medieval period, also called the Middle Ages, the city was called York and it was full of churches. There were eight monasteries and friaries, over 40 parish churches, chapels, chantries and two important colleges.

When YAT Archaeologists discovered the Gilbertine Priory of St Andrew at Fishergate they found a medieval cemetery as well. This helped them understand more about the health, diet, life expectancy and even appearance of the people of York at this time!

Archaeology Fact: When skeletons are found, they are drawn and photographed where they lay. Special permission is needed to remove the remains for further study.


AD 1837 to AD 1901

Tim in a top hat, as a Victorian

The 19th century saw rapid change in York as well as across the county. The population increased dramatically with the expansion of industry. Small terraced houses were built and areas of the city became overcrowded and smelly. People lived in terrible conditions, in dark cramped homes, not nice places to live at all!

The Victorian terrace that you unearth at DIG was in an area called Hungate and based on a house which originally stood in Dundas Street in York, it was knocked down, with the rest of York’s slums’ in the years after World War One.

I hope you’ve enjoyed our whistle-stop tour through York’s history! Discover more on your visit to DIG.